Trekking Poles


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Be prepared for every obstacle, and save a ton of money by making your own equipment and learning how to fix your stuff when it breaks in the backcountry

The Alpine Carbon Corks aren't cheap, but they're the best collapsible poles for rugged use

An argument for supported hiking

These items will keep you safe and having fun in the Valley

From the mouths of hikers mid-trail

These nine essentials make camp life easier, all under $100

After several months and thousands of miles, Outside's Taylor Gee knows what works and what doesn't

Stay comfortable on the trail, whether you're out for two days or ten

Gear hacks for a good backpacking trip when the weather goes bad

Stuff to keep you comfortable for a day (or a month) on the trail

Poles seem simple, but they're an important part of your hiking or backpacking kit. Here are our all-time favorites.

These are an absolute joy to use, despite some inherent limitations

These innovative products are worth the investment

At prices that won't break the bank

High-mileage trail-running tackle

Even when weight is at a premium, don't skip these items

Here's some key equipment and planning advice from a first-timer who just completed the Appalachian Trail

The perfect assortment for all manner of out-and-backs

Here's the kit one of the country's most ambitious FKT chasers uses when he heads out into the backcountry

Picking up a new sport? Repurposing these five items will save you some dough.

The Ultralight Trail Running Essentials of 2015

The Women’s Through-Hiking Essentials of 2015

Say goodbye to your grandpa’s hiking stick

Of the dozens of poles, stoves, multitools, and other essentials we tested this year, we kept reaching for these six, from the Brunton Get-Back GPS, which stores up to three waypoints and steers you to the trailhead, to MSR SureLock TR-3s, which, at 20 ounces a pair, aren't ultralight, but they are quite sturdy and strong.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Summer Buyer's Guide, including the Merrell Mariposa waterproof jacket.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the CAMP Xenon Trek pole.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Pole.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Exped Explorer 120 trekking pole.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2011 Summer Buyers Guide, including the Black Diamond Distance FL Poles.

A carbon lower shaft and aluminum upper section mean you save weight and money with this utility pole. But you give up the more comfortable ergonomic grips of pricier sticks. 19.2 oz per pair; exelsportsna.com…

They’re extremely light (carbon-fiber shafts), comfy (cork grips with foam extensions), and easy to adjust. Come winter, swap out the trekking baskets for the included powder versions. 1 lb; bdel.com…

Swift Sticks Three things we look for in trekking poles: light weight, comfy grip, and easy length adjustment. The new Aergons hit the trifecta. At 17 ounces, they’re respectably light. The mostly cork grip is ergonomic, and the newly designed locking levers are strong and simple to use—even with gloves…

Hiking up may be hard, but it’s the downhill that your joints will really feel. Bring along a pair of trekking poles so they can take the brunt of the impact instead of your knees. The thermofoam-handled Aergons are lightweight and easy to adjust on the fly.

No cranking required to loosen and tighten the super-secure twist locks on these aluminum poles. And, as with the others, long foam grips let you instantly adjust to frequently changing terrain. 18 oz per pair; leki.com…

BD’s signature FlickLock mechanism makes adjusting these sticks literally a snap (no twisting required). The oval-shaped, aluminum shafts are the stiffest we tested, and the grips nest perfectly in hand. 20 oz per pair; bdel.com…

The Contour is light and strong—made with a tough aluminum alloy—and the new Airshock cushioning system (which can be turned off if more stiffness is required) serves up a soft ride. 15.8 oz per pair; komperdell.com…

From game-changing new materials (like moisture-wicking cotton) to evolutionary leaps in engineering (like a rotating helmet for extreme crashes), the avant-garde of 21st-century gear has just one thing in common: a total disregard for the status quo.

WHERE TO USE IT: One glimpse of Longs Peak’s 1,500-foot vertical east face and you’ll know why you came: This 14,259-foot Colorado mountain is no mellow slag heap. The 15-mile round-trip hike gains 5,000 feet and demands an alpine start; afternoon lightning storms are a given. You can also tackle…

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